Ignoring New or Changed Symptoms Can Be Deadly
Last updated: June 2022
If you have IBS, you already have so many issues with your digestive system that it is easy to miss, overlook, or ignore new or changing symptoms. So many things can be chalked up to IBS that we become accustomed to ignoring issues. We need to stop doing that.
I will be the first to admit that I am guilty of ignoring symptoms. I have ignored red flags that should never have been ignored. Do not make this same mistake. I am only now realizing that being so nonchalant about symptoms could have cost me my life.
Should I have assumed the issue was the same? Absolutely not. I should have paid attention as soon as I noticed bloody mucus in my stool. For years I had mucus present in my stool. This was something I considered normal. Not once had it ever been bloody. That should have been a red flag.
Overlooking symptoms led me to the hospital
I recently had a bout of pancreatitis caused by gallstones. It was a horrific ordeal. I had ignored the pains associated with gallstones and chalked it up as IBS. I ended up on my bathroom floor in a great deal of pain.
During my first hospital visit, I had a CT scan to check my pancreas and gallbladder. When it did not show gallstones, I was sent for an ultrasound. This confirmed I did indeed have gallstones. Aside from that, no other issues were discovered.
Accidentally discovering bigger problems
A couple of days later, I was once again at a hospital. This time, I had seen blood in my stool immediately before leaving home. My husband thought to mention it to the doctor. I did not think much of it. I had been ignoring the symptom for over a year.
The first CT scan and ultrasound did not catch the other issue. The second one did. My CT scan came back red-flagged due to the discovery of a GI bleed. Simply mentioning finding blood in my stool led them to take a look at my colon, and it was that easy to find a spot that was oozing blood.
Tell your doctor about new symptoms
I ignored a symptom for over a year, and a scan just a few days earlier did not catch the problem. Mentioning a single symptom before having a scan for another issue led to the discovery of something very important. This is why it is important to mention new or changed symptoms.
I went to the hospital because of pancreatitis and gallstones. I needed surgery to remove my gallbladder. Instead, I ended up being prepped to have a colonoscopy as soon as possible. During the procedure, they found and removed 3 polyps, including one that was quite large.
Having gallstones might have saved my life
That might sound a bit dramatic, but having gallstones very well could have saved my life. I ignored a big red flag for well over a year, and I would have continued to ignore it. My husband mentioning this symptom while I was in the hospital for an unrelated issue led them to look for something else.
Finding the source of the blood led to the colonoscopy and finding and removing the polyps. Polyps left to grow can turn into colon cancer. Large polyps are more likely to turn into colon cancer. Having polyps removed is the best defense against developing colon cancer and helps detect colon cancer early, and early treatment of colon cancer is so important. This can save your life.
No longer ignoring symptoms
As I wait for the results of the biopsies, I realize that having gallstones may have saved my life. Even if the polyps turn out to be benign, these polyps could have turned into cancer in the future. Removal could have prevented me from ever getting colon cancer, and I never would have mentioned it if I had not been in the hospital.
This whole ordeal has been frustrating and frightening and a whirlwind of many things all at once. It has also been eye-opening. My willingness to overlook a symptom could have cost me my life. I will not make that mistake again.
Please do not ignore new symptoms
Do not be like me. Do not ignore symptoms, especially blood in your stool. I had and have hemorrhoids, and it is not unusual to find blood during cleanup. Blood should not have been present in mucus in my stool, and it should not have been present when I did not have the tell-tale swelling and tenderness caused by hemorrhoids.
Have you noticed a change in symptoms? Have you seen blood in your stool? Mention it to your doctor. Removing polyps before they turn cancerous can save your life. Early detection of colon cancer can save your life. Have those recommended colonoscopies whether you like it or not. It could save your life.
Do you suffer from IBS-C, IBS-D, or IBS-Mixed/Alternating?